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Lenny Frieling Jan. 10, 2022

THC Metabolism in A Nugget

Delta-9 THC starts in the plant as an acid THCa. It is converted by the heat slowly by sun or more quickly otherwise by “decarboxilating” the THC, dramatically increasing the amount of Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive substance in Cannabis. That’s a pipe full I think.

A happy concert goer or study crammer imbibes. The Delta-9 is metabolized (changed chemically by the body, typically enzymes at work) into Delta-11 THC, short-lived and psychoactive, which then metabolizes to THC COOH, or Carboxy THC. Carboxy THC is fat soluble, meaning it is lipid soluble. It’s like trying to mix oil and water. Not easily done.

Carboxy THC is not water soluble. It is fat soluble. The lipid soluble THC-COOH, the detritus of imbibing, is NOT psychoactive. But, most problematically, the majority of cheap fast drug testing is of urine, and almost universally urine testing looks at the level of THC COOH in urine. So the measurement is of a chemical that dissolves in the fat of the body, and is excreted in urine. It is stored in fat for as long as two months or more. As evidence of recent use, impairment, or anything else beyond the demonstration that the person may have imbibed in the previous month or so it is useless. That is generally not the issue, save possible parole and probation violations for example, where the question really IS “have you imbibed cannabis within the last month or two?”


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